Jordan's King Abdullah reappoints Ensour as PM

AMMAN Sat Mar 9, 2013 1:25pm EST

Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour (3rd L) shows his ink-stained finger after casting his vote at a polling station in Al Salt January 23, 2013. REUTERS/Muhammad Hammad

Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour (3rd L) shows his ink-stained finger after casting his vote at a polling station in Al Salt January 23, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Muhammad Hammad

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AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordan's King Abdullah reappointed Abdullah Ensour as prime minister on Saturday after canvassing members of a new parliament elected in January, an official said.

The monarch's consultations with the new parliament follow constitutional changes that devolved some his powers to the assembly - a response to calls for reform prompted by recent uprisings across the Arab world.

King Abdullah previously hand-picked his prime ministers without consulting parliament. Ensour, a U.S.-French educated economist who is not tainted with corruption allegations, was nominated by the majority of parliamentarians.

He was appointed in October after the king dissolved parliament halfway through its four-year term to prepare for the country's first parliamentary elections since the Arab spring.

The constitutional changes transferred some of the monarch's powers to parliament, which critics said had become sidelined, and restored to the government some executive powers which had shifted to the palace and security forces.

Ensour has pledged to continue IMF-guided reforms and could find himself at loggerheads with the new assembly, which excludes mainstream Islamists who boycotted the January election over electoral laws they said were loaded against them.

The veteran politician, who has a long career as a lawmaker and has held senior government posts in successive administrations, took an unpopular decision last November to raise fuel prices, sparking several days of civil unrest, mainly across rural and tribal areas hit by removal of subsidies.

Ensour said a shift from broad subsidies towards targeted cash transfers to the poor would provide more effective support and was the only option to avert a financial crisis that drove the country's deficit to over 12 percent of GDP.

Independent politicians have praised his boldness to take tough IMF-dictated steps, in the defiance of populist resistance, allowing the kingdom to secure $2 billion in funding.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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